Brief Comic Updates.

I’ve really been behind my comic book reading as of late, (anywhere from 2-4 weeks per book title), but as a brief highlight I can give you my take in the following highlights:

  • Darkest Night cross overs happening with the Green Lantern family of books over at DC is much better than Final Crisis and Countdown combined.  Awesome artwork and a really grand and episodic format that weaves amongst all the books makes this the best thing DC has put out in a while.
  • What the hell is happening with Teen Titans?  Ever since Superboy died mid Identity crisis this book just can’t seem to find it’s footing or traction.  I’m giving up.  Too many roster changes and silly arcs to keep me going.
  • Same with Batman and the Outsiders….it just seems stalled….giving up for now.
  • Secret Six…A ‘B’ book which can easily be considered one of the better B books DC is putting out.  A lot of good stories, twisted and bizarre and good character development…of course courtesy of Gail Simone.
  • X-Force and Messiah War crossover – So far very good.  Artwork on X-Force shines, and nice solid story.  Too bad X-Men Legacy and Uncanny are suffering right now.
  • All Avengers books and Dark Reign ties in are really good.  I’m liking this better than Civil War.  Norman’s Dark Avengers is a fun read. 
  • Dare Devil always seems fresh, even though Kingpin is back yet again.
  • G.I. Joe from IDW…’meh’.  The origin one-shots and Cobra mini series is better than the core title.  The idea of Destro with little bots infiltrating the PITT for the first three episodes seems too campy and drawn out.  Where’s Cobra Commander already?

Comics: Uncanny X-Men 499 & Legacy 213

Xavier hurt for the 1000th time.

Xavier hurt for the 1000th time.

Ugh.  That what I have to say about the recent X-Men core titles.  I used to look so forward to the X-Men in general.  The good ‘ole days when X-Men launched a new #1 with a Jim Lee jam cover.  These were the days where X-Force was on fire (by Rob Liefield) and we had great arcs like X-Tinction Agenda and Age of Apocalypse.

Sure, I understand that the X-Men universe is in constant change.  It really started to take a nosedive in my opinion just after M-Day.  I still don’t understand who at Marvel was keeping track of the 198.  There sure seemed like more than 198 still running around to me, and all the other concurrent crap like Calypso and her tentacle arms and and how they were destroying Cable.

Then enter Joss Whedons Astonishing X-Men story and I can’t figure out who is where anymore and is Beast (aka Dr. Henry McCoy) a cat or not a cat?  Depends who was on pencil duties that month.  And don’t get me started on the whole Kitty phasing the bullet through the whole planet thing.  Booo.

Suffice to say I won’t get into a huge diatribe right now, but this is whats wrong with X-verse right now: Too many titles and characters spread so thin that stories just seem uninspired or rehashed or just plain confusing….i.e. no longer fun.  This whole “Divided We Stand” arc between all the X titles is just crap.  I say it’s crap because none of the editors have made it clear what is actually happening, what the deep ramifications are, and where are we headed.  It just seems everything (except Peter David on X-Factor) is just rushed just to say we got a comic out the door.

Case in point: the two core titles Uncanny and Legacy.

Legacy:  What the hell is going on with Gambit and Xavier and Shaw?  Gambit is all of a sudden better after his not too distant jaunt with Apocalypse and his dialogue is just so stupid as of late.  What even gets me more is that Xavier just spent a few issues comatose on a lab slab (thought to be dead) with his brain being repaired by the new Acolytes, just to be telepathically invaded by Mr. Sinister, just to be shot by some goon and bleeding to death….again.  Sorry, but this is just so un-original anymore, and this whole arc with Sebastian Shaw teaming with ‘happy days are hear again’ Remy just seems to be dragging on and on….which seems like an oxymoron seeing that writer Mike Carey insists on every page having a fight panel of some sort.  And also sorry but I seriously dislike Scot Eatons pencils.  Not one of my favorite artists by a long shot, so I have sadly have two very strong marks against this flagship title.

Uncanny 499: Yeah, we all expected a big lead up to issue #500, but splitting the teams into two and sending one to Russia (Nightcrawler, Wolverine, Colossus) and the others (Emma, Scott, Angel, and the others) to a psychedelic induced San Fransisco of the 1960’s is equally just filler material until someone figures out where they may be going with #500 and beyond.  However, I do like the art style, especially Mike Choi’s work on Emma Frost (hubba hubba) and the interpretation of Cyclops was very nice.  But again, they took a sleeper story and stretched it over four issues.  I can’t even tell you why or Colossus, Wolverine and Nightcrawler were even in the Soviet Union right now…because it was forgettable and again just seemed like filler material.  It was a nice surprise to see Omega Red, but the cleanup and resolution was too quick….Here ya go SHIELD.  When the sub plots of both teams wrapped up, the issue just made an abrupt cut like everything is back to normal again and just seemed to…well,…end.

Needless to say, all the X-titles are suffering right now, except maybe X-Factor….but that’s because you have a great writer and a much smaller sandbox he’s playing in right now.

X-Factor #1: Quick and the Dead

Pretty Boy PietroI was never too much a fan of the early X-Factor days.  I think the only issue I can recall is X-Factor #5 (Vol. 1) because this is credited as the first appearance of Apocalypse.  My friend Brian Liles actually bought this back issue for me as a birthday present years ago because he knew how much I liked Apocalypse.

As a matter of fact I really wasn’t into most of the X-titles as there were just too many of them, and in my personal opinion some of the storylines, and characters for that matter, were just plain crap and filler material that Marvel was cashing in on for anything that had a ‘mutant’ in it.

But when Peter David came aboard to relaunch the title (Vol. 3) in 2005, I’ve been an avid reader ever since.  I truly believe that Peter David is one of the most profound and intelligent comic crafter and story tellers of both sci-fi and comics genres.  If you ever get a chance, please read his Star Trek: New Frontier series or even his run on DC’s Aquaman (Vol. 5, 1994).  Mr. David carves out a unique niche in the X-verse (if you will) and gives so much more depth, personality, and motivations to the characters he touches moreso than anyone else in the current X-verse.

So here we have this one shot #1 issue.  I didn’t even realize it was a one shot when I picked it up.  I just saw the X-Factor logo and figured it was the next issue.  As a general rule, I stray away from one shots unless it has so much hype around it or is critical to another comic event that I would otherwise be lost without it.  Most of the time 1 shots are highly forgettable and generally just fluff.

Surprisingly this issue was a personal treat after I thought about it for some time.  See, Quicksilver has been more or less a prick since the events of M-Day in which he played a pivitol role.  His arrogance and warped sense of justification had him basically on the brink of being considered a villain one again and he gets to a point were he attempts to murder Layla Miller (she knows stuff) of the current X-Factor roster after hurting and killing others.

We pick up the story of Pietro in a jail cell, mumbling names to himself, in the fetal position.  For the first time in a long time I really had the sense of bing in Quicksilver’s mind, and Peter David is able to tell an incredible journey in just a few pages of his personal torment that has been plaguing Quicksilver the last few months.  He’s at one of his lowest points both emotionally and physically, having sporting brusies and cuts from a recent altercation.  He is visited by his sister, father, daughter, and lover in part of his broken psyche until he begins to see the error of his ways.  It’s these flashbacks of historical context and conversation in which Pietro begin to gain confidence once again in himself. 

From his jail cell he witnesses a man beating his girlfriend, and when no one comes to her aid or listens to Quicksilver, he finds the reserve of energy within him to reactivate his powers (perhaps they were never gone to begin with…he just shut down…not his powers) and busts out just in time to save her.  At this point the art work grows from small dark panels within the pages to larger and brighter artwork until there is one large 1 panel splash page about 2/3rds through, clearly showing a new and invigorated Quciksilver.

Using his super speed (though I always thought DC’s Flash speed powers were displayed better) he runs the world in a carefree manner until he launches himself off a mountain…..hits a plane in midflight….falls to the ocean….and is rescued by a passing luxury liner.   Okay, I know that last part seems a little gay, but through the thought balloons and artwork, it actually does gel.

So Quicksilver is free and a good guy again and only time will tell when he shows up again.

There is only so much you can do in one issue, and Peter David did a great job.   But, and I do mean BUT, there are other aspects that have yet to be explored?  So after the events of M-Day, does this new found confidence aleviate fim from any responsibility for the deaths and destruction he caused?  Will X-Factor, or especially Layla, forgive him?  Will the Avnegers and various mutants forgive him?  Eh…just seemed a little too neatly wrapped up there at the end and hoepfully will be explored more in depth later.  I hate when comics leave major chracters or major events surround certain characters shelved for no particular reason like a bad cliff hanger that we as a reader never get any resolution of and everybody just seems to move on.